'Batman' TV series to be freed from belfry at San Diego Comic-Con

West, Ward, Newmar to talk about series' release on video at

Partial Blu-ray cover of the "Batman" complete series release, due in November.
Partial Blu-ray cover of the "Batman" complete series release, due in November. (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment)

The granddaddy of all fan conventions -- the San Diego Comic Con -- is back Thursday through Sunday, in what in recent years has turned into a major event for film studios and TV networks that  tout their latest fantasy, action and superhero projects.

But while the stars of the next big film or TV blockbuster hopefuls will be participating in panel events for fans to ask questions throughout the next few days, perhaps the most anticipated gathering will come from three stars who made their mark on network television almost 50 years ago.

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment announced earlier this month that that Adam West (Batman/Bruce Wayne), Burt Ward (Robin/Dick Grayson) and Julie Newmar (Catwoman) would be doing a special panel to discuss the digitally remastered "Batman: The Complete Television Series," which will be released for the first time in November on Blu-ray, DVD and digital HD.

The timing of the announcement couldn't be any more perfect. Warner Bros. is celebrating the 75th anniversary of Batman, also known as "The Dark Knight" and the "Caped Crusader," on Wednesday.

West, 85, Ward, 69, and Newmar, 80, are scheduled to sit on the panel to talk about the release Thursday night.

In an interview last fall, Newmar told me she was thrilled to still participate in conventions to promote the character, since it is one of the favorite roles she's played in her illustrious career -- a role, she said that was just as much about the alluring, skin-tight costume as her acting.

"I'm realizing that through all the shows I've done -- the television, film and stage -- all the mediums I've worked in, Catwoman's costume was the one that allowed me to tell the story through my body," Newmar told me. "The words were brilliant, and funny on top of that. The producer hired the right people to do all the lighting, to do this, that and the other, and it was the right time in the right decade. It all worked."

The release of the remastered "Batman" series has been a long-time coming for Batfans, who only last year finally got officially licensed merchandise tied into the "Batman" series after years of reported legal snares held the process.

Since then, companies like Mattel, NECA and Hot Toys/Sideshow Collectibles have produced figures and assorted other collectibles based on the classic series -- and will even unveil some new merchandise at the San Diego Comic Con. Among the offerings are a new, 18-inch figure of Robin from NECA (following the release of an 18-inch Batman last year) and a full-size Batman utility belt with a "Batarang" from Mattel.

Hot Toys, meanwhile, is offering a "Toy Fair Exclusive" from another era in the "Batman" saga -- a 12-inch "Dark Knight" Joker (Heath Ledger) figure in his bank robber gear.

Toy exclusives, of course, are a big part of the San Diego Comic Con, and the likes of Mattel, NECA and Hot Toys/Sideshow Collectibles aren't alone in their offerings.

Hasbro is releasing a complete slate of exclusives, including a 6-inch scale Jabba the Hut figure for its popular "Star Wars" Black series, in addition to offerings from its "Transformers" and Marvel Universe figure lines.

Tim Lammers is a nationally syndicated movie journalist and the author of the new ebook Direct Conversations: The Animated Films of Tim Burton (Foreword by Tim Burton).